This time of year, I’m always looking forward to curling up with a heavy blanket, a sauna, or hot soup. But, one of the best ways I warm up is by enjoying my homemade spicy kimchi with some fried eggs. Delicious! Of course, kimchi is perfect with more than just fried eggs: try it as a meat marinade or as a side to meat (try eating this with a roast!), in soup, with fish, or even by itself. Sometimes, I grab a fork and enjoy it as is.
Recently, I made an extra tasty batch that is somewhat based on the Nourishing Traditions Korean Sauerkraut. I changed and added a few things to match my own preferences, and it’s exactly what I hoped for! Thanks to our local Grand Forks store called Toucan International Market, I’ve had the opportunity to explore a lot of new types of food, and I used two things from this store in my kimchi: Red Boat fish sauce and Korean red chili pepper powder. The chili powder comes in a big bag and is extremely cost-friendly.
Anyway, back to the kimchi: it is such an easy recipe and takes less time to ferment than sauerkraut. Typically, I like my sauerkraut to ferment for 6 weeks before I’m happy with the flavor, but this kimchi fermented for about 1 week and it’s perfect. I hope you like it as much as I do:)
Diane’s Spicy Winter Kimchi (makes ½ gallon):
2-3 tablespoons fresh grated turmeric root (or 1 tablespoon dried turmeric root)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 head medium green cabbage (or 1 napa cabbage)
2 bunches sliced green onions (or half a medium yellow/white onion)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root (or ½ tablespoon ground dried ginger)
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup grated carrots
¼ cup Korean red chili pepper powder (substitute ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
1 packet starter culture dissolved in 2 tablespoons water (if not available, use 1 additional tablespoon of salt OR 4 tablespoons fresh whey)
Salt options–choose one:
1. 2 teaspoons sea salt AND 1 tablespoon fish sauce OR
2. 1 tablespoon sea salt
Remove the outer cabbage leaves until you see no dirt. Then, reserve 1-2 additional whole leaves and set aside. Shred the cabbage and carrots into small pieces in a food processor (I prefer the smallest pieces my food processor can cut) or slice it by hand. Add the shredded carrot/cabbage mix to a large non-metal bowl. Grate turmeric and ginger. Slice green onions. Mince garlic. Add all ingredients to the large bowl. With clean hands, massage the ingredients together for 1-2 minutes. Add it all to a ½ gallon glass jar and press down. Add the reserved cabbage leaves to firmly cover the kimchi. I like to weigh everything down with a small jam jar or my glass fermentation weights. If the kimchi and cabbage leaves are not completely submerged under the brine, add extra brine until it is covered (extra brine recipe: 1 cup of water plus .5 tablespoons salt. Dissolve and add to kimchi as needed). Brine should be at least 1 inch above the vegetables. Either cover tightly and burp 2-3 times a day OR cover with an airlock. Place the kimchi in a dark warm space, such as a cupboard above your refrigerator. Important note: your jar might explode if you don’t burp it! Second important note: place your jar in a large bowl while it ferments in case brine leaks out while you’re burping it or it explodes/leaks. Third important note: if you do not use a starter culture or fresh whey, your ferment will probably take 2 weeks to ferment, but let your tastebuds decide. Without a starter, I’d let it sit for a minimum of 2-3 weeks before moving it to the fridge. The starter is just added to hurry the fermentation process. Enjoy!!
There are many wholesome things to do when we are stuck indoors during the winter. Lately, my self-care focus has been reading, coloring, and researching. But…fermenting food can be therapeutic, too. It’s kind of like an indoor garden, except you’re growing beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and enzymes instead of plants. So get some cabbage juice under your fingernails and have some fun inventing new ferments! Cheers to a healthy winter. <3
Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.
She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and three children and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.